Court Radio: What to Do When Prescription or Over-The-Counter Drugs Make You Sicker
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on June 23rd, 2012
Medicines, whether they’re available by prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), are supposed to make sick people feel better.
But that’s not what always happens. Sometimes, taking medicines can make sick people feel worse, causing serious medical complications or even death.
Those issues will be the topic on “Court Radio” at 7 a.m. this Sunday with special guest Michelle L. Tiger, an attorney who specializes in pharmaceutical mass tort litigation. Tiger will join MyPhillyLawyer managing partner Dean Weitzman and his co-host David Rapoport on the show.
Court Radio is broadcast live at 7 a.m. every Sunday morning on Philadelphia’s WRNB 100.3 FM, with a simulcast on Magic 95.9 FM in Baltimore. You can also listen live on the Internet at WRNB 100.3 or on Magic 95.9 via streaming audio.
“It’s a big problem today, especially with the direct-to-consumer advertising that you are seeing” in the media, said Tiger, an attorney with Kline & Specter in Philadelphia. “People are much more aware that they can go in and ask their doctor for medicines” after seeing them in ads on TV and in print media.
“It’s a huge business for the pharmaceutical industry and there are a lot of drugs out there that are good for people and that can help them,” she said. “But then there are drugs in clinical studies or in ‘adverse-event reports’ that can have risk such as an increased risk of heart attacks. What the drug companies do with that information has been the basis for some of the litigation today.”
And it’s not just medicines, she said. Often such cases involve medical devices used to treat sick patients, such as pelvic mesh products that have been found to cause serious complications with many women who undergo surgery. A recent MyPhillyLawyer blog post described that problem earlier this month.
“This is one of the most outrageous legal issues happening right now,” Tiger said of the vaginal mesh lawsuits and complications. “I must have talked to over 100 women who have these problems. The thing is it’s such a private topic and the side effects are so horrendous.”
To file a lawsuit alleging harm by pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania, a plaintiff has to show that the drug company failed to fulfill its legal duties to clearly warn consumers of any potential risks of consuming a medication, she said.
“In Pennsylvania, that’s the only theory you can use against the drug companies,” she said. “It comes down to if they warned you properly or if they didn’t warn you. That determines whether you have a case.”
It’s also the duty of the pharmaceutical company to also warn the doctors who prescribe the medicines, she said. “If they fail to adequately warn the doctor, then you can have a claim against them for failure to warn. It’s a claim based on negligence.”
Proving your claim and your injuries will be critical and won’t necessarily be easy, Tiger said. “They are very difficult because it is very expensive to sue a pharmaceutical company. The big question is whether a pharmaceutical company warned consumers clearly of any potential risks.”
What it all comes down to, she said, is that if you believe you are harmed by taking a prescription or OTC medicine, you should talk with a qualified and experienced attorney to map out your legal options and review your specific case.
Tiger earned her law degree from Villanova University and her bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College. She is a member of the Philadelphia Bar Association as well as the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice.
She was involved in lawsuits against the manufacturers of various pharmaceuticals, including Vioxx, which settled for $4.85 billion, according to her biography. She was also involved in litigation involving the similar painkillers Celebrex and Bextra, diet drugs such as Fen-Phen, and Baycol, Serzone, Lotronex and PPA, the last an ingredient in many best-selling cold medications and diet aids. Tiger coordinated the national discovery process in the case against Baycol, a popular cholesterol-lowering drug that resulted in renal failure and at least 31 known deaths.
Tiger also is involved in suits involving drugs that have come under recent scrutiny, including atypical antipsychotic drugs such as Zyprexa and Risperdal (associated with reported cases of diabetes) and the Ortho Evra birth control patch (associated with a higher risk of potentially deadly blood clots).
So be sure to tune in for Court Radio at 7 a.m. Sunday to talk about prescription and OTC medicines and your legal rights with co-hosts Dean Weitzman and David Rapoport and their special guest, attorney Michelle Tiger. And remember to call in with your own questions and comments.
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